So you have a financial order in place following divorce which may include an order for your former spouse to pay you a lump sum, a monthly payment known as spousal maintenance or periodical payments or a pension sharing order of your former spouse’s pension.
However your former spouse has not handed over the lump sum, transferred property to you, or they have stopped paying the monthly payment or not provided the necessary payment or information to the pension provider.
So what can you do about making your former spouse comply with the financial order?
In the first instance you should make contact with your former spouse to try to encourage them to comply with the financial order and if that fails then contact your solicitor. If your former spouse still fails to implement the terms of the order then you will need to refer the matter back to the court for enforcement action.
There are various options available to the court in order to enable the financial order made, be implemented and such options depend on what the terms of the order are i.e. lump sum payment or sale of the family home etc.
Examples of Enforcement options a court can make
The most common breach of a financial order is where the family home is to be sold and proceeds divided between the parties but your former spouse is refusing to sign the paperwork to enable the sale to proceed or to vacate the family home.
Where this happens, your solicitor can ask the court to:
- Allow you to manage the sale alone;
- Order your former spouse to leave the property; or
- Agree to sign the sale papers on your former spouse’s behalf.
The court will often leave the party living in the family home to deal with arrangements such as viewings and dealing with the estate agents but if your former spouse will not facilitate is then the court may order that these matters should be left to you to deal with and, if necessary, that your former spouse should be ordered to leave the property.
In the event your former spouse refuses to sign the sale paperwork a court can agree to sign the documents on their behalf to enable the sale to go through.
Non-payment of maintenance
If the order provides for a spousal maintenance order and your former spouse stops paying or does not commence payments you can only usually ask the court to order the payment of arrears. The court will only usually consider payments which are under 12 months old so it is essential to deal with arrears as soon as the first couple of payments are missed.
If your former spouse is in paid employment the court could, as one of the options available to it, make an order that the sums due and future payments are deducted from your former spouse’s salary/pay.
Will there be enforcement action costs I will be liable for?
Yes there will be legal fees and associated costs to take enforcement proceedings, but you can ask the court to add these costs to the money you are owed so that reimbursement can be claimed from your former spouse. As with any litigation there is a risk you do not recover your costs or your former spouse does not have the money available to pay you.
You should obtain legal advice early on so your legal team can help you weigh up your opinions.